Neospora caninum has been recognized as a major cause of infectious bovine abortion worldwide. In the present study, the effect of N. caninum infection in mice at the 3 gestation periods (first, second, and third period) was investigated. In dams, tissue distribution of N. caninum was evaluated by nested polymerase chain reaction. In the progeny, fetal mortality, stillbirth, litter size, neonatal mortality/morbidity, vertical transmission, and parasite burden in neonatal tissues were evaluated. Pregnant BALB/c mice were infected subcutaneously with 2 × 106 NC-1 tachyzoites on days 0, 7, or 14 of gestation. Dams from each group were sequentially killed during gestation and postpartum (PP). Pups were killed on days 1 and 7 PP. Infection on day 0 of gestation produced a high vertical transmission rate, although no changes in fetal mortality, stillbirth, and littermate size were observed. The highest level of vertical transmission, together with an increase in fetal mortality and stillbirth and a decrease in litter size, were observed when infection was done on day 7 of gestation. Finally, infection on day 14 of gestation produced the lowest vertical transmission. Furthermore, infection at any time during gestation compromised the postnatal development of pups, because neonates from infected dams showed less body weight and a delay in the hair development.

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